A group of local and international artists have been selected to create individual works of art for Fayetteville’s upcoming public art project, “Green Candy,” the city’s tourism bureau Experience Fayetteville announced Thursday (Aug. 10).
Experience Fayetteville has appointed the global artist network JustKids for the sustainability-themed project, which will result in murals and three-dimensional art pieces to be displayed in various locations throughout downtown Fayetteville. Installation of the art is scheduled the week of Aug. 21 in conjunction with the Fayetteville Roots Festival.
The chosen artists include Bordalo II of Portugal, who uses discarded materials as a medium; Malaysian-based Ernest Zacharevic, a painter whose work aims to show “the hidden magic in urban ecosystems; the Brazilian artist duo Bicicleta Sem Freio, “whose bucolic and colorful graphic style brings the essence of primal life to urban landscapes;” and Marina Zumi of Argentina, whose work explores the idea of “cosmic balance,” according JustKids.
Northwest Arkansas artists Jason Jones of Fayetteville and Gina Gallina of Eureka Springs also will have works on display, though Hazel Hernandez, director of marketing and communications for Experience Fayetteville, said the artists’ designs and where they will be located have not yet been chosen.
Bicicleta Sem Freio’s work was also part of the first installment of downtown Fort Smith’s “The Unexpected Project” art series. The duo painted the “Catira” mural on the side of a building on Garrison Avenue.
“The Unexpected” has brought in artists from throughout the world to create artworks throughout downtown Fort Smith the last three years. The project has attracted thousands of local and tourist visitors and racked up more than 5 million views on social media channels. “The Unexpected” 2017 was completed during the week of July 23-30. This year’s artworks included brought to the Sebastian County Juvenile Detention Center’s recreation yard a colorful mural with words from Maya Angelou’s noted poem, “Still I Rise.” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson viewed the “The Unexpected” 2017 and afterward penned an opinion piece praising the project for Talk Business & Politics.
“The Unexpected,” like “Green Candy,” also was curated by JustKids owner Charlotte Dutoit. Bordalo II also contributed art for second year of “The Unexpected in 2016,” creating a 3D “Opossum” on the side of a building and a large “Fox” sculpture, both on Garrison Avenue and both constructed out of discarded metal, car parts, appliances and other items. However, the Fort Smith project has been entirely privately funded, whereas the Fayetteville project will be supported with funds from the city’s hospitality tax revenue.
“We are very pleased with the selection of artists JustKids has chosen,” Molly Rawn, executive director of Experience Fayetteville, said in the release. “This combination and diversity of art will provide our community and visitors with exposure to incredible talent, vision and techniques. Through Green Candy, we’re bringing global works to Fayetteville.”
Dutoit said Green Candy’s theme has become increasingly important.
“Cities and communities all around the world have a growing stake in developing cultural and conscious conversations around sustainability,” she said in the release. “Going beyond intellectual knowledge and approaching these problems and potential solutions with imagination is, for us, the right approach. Some of the people best suited to help reimagine our consumption and waste behavior are artists and creatives.”
The arts have been a focus for several downtowns in Arkansas, including North Little Rock’s Argenta Arts District, the arts district in Bentonville and the soon-to-open Murphy Arts District in El Dorado.
Arts and culture events have proved to be important parts of local economies. In 2015, nonprofit arts and cultural events generated an estimated $131.2 million in economic activity in Benton and Washington counties, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 report from Americans for the Arts of Washington, D.C. The report attributes $67.5 million in direct spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Benton and Washington counties and the remaining $63.7 million to event-related expenses made by their audiences, an estimated 1.8 million people that year.
Nationwide data show arts and culture economic activity accounted for 4.2% of the U.S. gross domestic product, or $730 billion, in 2014, according to a report released in April by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The BEA measured total spending on all arts and cultural goods and services to be $1 trillion in 2014.